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Banding Together for Waterfowl

PARTNERS GATHER TO CELEBRATE CONFLUENCE CONSERVATION

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Momentum Builds for Conservation in the Missouri Confluence

ST. LOUIS, MO - May 16, 2008 – Seven St. Louis area duck hunting clubs and their members were honored Thursday for their efforts in protecting, restoring and enhancing wetland habitat within the Missouri Confluence Conservation Area near here. The event hosted by Ducks Unlimited and the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance (GRHA) also highlighted the importance of the Confluence Area and provided a setting for conservation partners and landowners to discuss opportunities for the future.

DU Regional Director Curtis Hopkins presented Habitat Heritage Society plaques to current Confluence Conservation Easement holders.

“The Missouri Confluence is a unique and vital area for waterfowl habitat and flood protection,” said Craig Hilburn, manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited (DU). “This area provides crucial migration habitat for waterfowl, but development pressures are threatening the area’s ability to maintain that historic role.”

There is an enormous cooperative effort from a diverse group of partners to conserve the Confluence and its role in providing resources for wildlife, agriculture, and water quality. One strategy for protection is to work with willing landowners to place conservation easements on their lands. These easements protect habitat from development permanently.

The first Confluence landowner to donate a conservation easement to DU was Wilkie Land Company, LLC. Adrian Baker, member of Wilkie Land Company and Marais Temps Claire Duck Club, explained that his grandfather was a founding member of the two groups in 1917. When Baker read an article in the DU magazine about the mission to protect land in the region through conservation easements, he took the idea to the members.

“I put the idea to the club and the vote was unanimous. Everyone liked the idea of preserving and protecting the wetlands and waterfowl hunting memories of the marsh for future generations to enjoy. Our reason for moving forward with a donated easement to DU was just that simple,” Baker said.

Steve Lohr and John Timmermann quickly followed suit, donating conservation easements on the 52-acre Thousand Oaks and 576-acre Mallard Point duck clubs, respectively. Lohr and Timmermann continue to be huge advocates for conservation easements and wetland diversity.

“As a kid hunting in the flood plain of St. Charles County I always dreamed of owning my own duck club” Timmerman explained. “I’m now living my dream. By diversifying my wetland habitat, donating a conservation easement to Ducks Unlimited and allowing Mallard Point to be used as a wetland demonstration site, I hope I’m making a difference, and others will do the same.”

“We’re all stewards of the land” Lohr said. “It’s our obligation and responsibility to preserve and protect this historical migration route, and that will require all ducks clubs, large and small, working together to conserve the wetland values of the confluence. Maybe in 200 years someone will say, ‘These folks sure had some foresight!’.”

Subsequently, Pine LLC signed an easement on 96 acres becoming DU’s first easement in Lincoln County. The property is enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program with restoration scheduled this year.

Bob Glarner of Pine LLC, when asked why he elected to place a donated easement on the property stated, “A donated easement to DU was the best way to guarantee the long-term sustainability of the wetland habitat on the property”.

In 2007, the momentum to protect the Confluence continued with the permanent protection of two additional critically important properties; the Dardenne Club and Belleau Farm. The Dardenne Club contains two large natural wetland basins totaling 559 acres that historically served as an important stopover for thousands of migrating waterfowl.

Garth Fort, Dardenne Club member and chairman of the club's easement committee said, “The 22-member club voted unanimously to protect Dardenne's natural wetlands with a conservation easement, and we all feel really good in doing so. It's the most important action the club has ever taken.”

The 1,550-acre Belleau Farm adjoins the Dardenne Club and is managed intensively to provide migration habitat for waterfowl and resident wildlife. Belleau Farms is the home of Adolphus Busch, IV who, as founder and chairman of the GRHA (a local conservation group dedicated to flood plain conservation) has been instrumental in bringing together federal, state and non-government organizations with a common goal of conserving the Confluence.

“It will take the collective resources of all partners, working together, to safeguard the wetland, agricultural and waterfowl hunting heritage of the Confluence,” Busch explained.

Last night’s event included the signing of the seventh Confluence area conservation easement on the Hager family’s Raccoon Ranch. They donated a 1,200-acre conservation easement to DU’s Wetlands America Trust.

Charlie Hager signs 1,200-acre Conservation Easement on Raccon Ranch

“It is vital to protect the critical migration habitat of Raccoon Ranch in perpetuity - -especially as it relates to the abundant spring migration habitat on the property” explained Charlie Hager, President and Chief Operating Officer for C. Hager & Sons Hinge Manufacturing Company. “The more of us in the Confluence that take the step to protect the wetland values of our property with a conservation easement the more we can insure that waterfowl will use the Confluence in the future,” Hager said.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with over 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

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Andi Cooper     601-206-5463     acooper@ducks.org

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